Nuclear waste could be buried 1km under national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty, a committee of MPs have agreed.
The business select committee refused to rule out constructing Geological Disposal Infrastructure in parks in its response to the government’s Draft National Policy Statement.
Safety concerns will be prioritised over environmental issues, the committee said in a report, as it decided against adding an exclusionary criteria.
The report said: “Although we agree that major developments should not be allowed in designated areas except under exceptional circumstances, we believe that existing planning legislation and the NPS contain sufficient safeguards against intrusive developments and environmental damage in National Parks and AONBs.
“Moreover, we support the government’s view that it is conceivable for a GDI to be designed in a way that would be acceptable to communities, preserve the socioeconomic benefits that national parks and AONBs currently bring them and avoid any intrusive surface facility in conservation areas.”
Campaign for National Parks policy and research manager Ruth Bradshaw said: “Our national parks are precious, national assets with, at least theoretically, the highest level of protection through the planning system. There is a strong and long-established presumption against major development in these areas.”
“The proposed nuclear storage facility is completely contrary to the purposes of National Parks and we are extremely disappointed that the committee has failed to recognise this,” she added.
“The decision not to recommend excluding National Parks and AONBs as possible locations also goes against the government’s ambitions for these areas as set out in the 25 Year Environment Plan.”
The government launched a consultation on the location for the radioactive waste disposal facility in January.
Site investigations could take between 15 to 20 years, with the first vaults expected to take a further 10 years to construct, according to the consultation report. Additional vaults will be built as the facility is filled.
The vaults and tunnel will be constructed between 0.2km to 1km underground and will cover an area of around 10 to 20km².
It will be constructed out of layers of steel, rock and clay to provide protection while waste remains radioactive.
A previous site selection process ended with no candidates after councils in west Cumbria pulled out of the process in 2013.
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